Skip to content

Oakville’s Diana Matheson launches new 8 team Canadian Women’s Soccer League

The two-time Olympic Bronze Medalist is blazing a new path for professional athletes.
Diana Matheson set to make a big impact in 2023 | Canadian Olympic soccer hero receives a bouquet at an honourary ceremony in 2022. | Pierce Lang
Diana Matheson set to make a big impact in 2023 | Canadian Olympic soccer hero receives a bouquet at an honourary ceremony in 2022. | Pierce Lang

On Dec. 5, Oakville’s original Olympic soccer hero Diana Matheson made another big splash on the Canadian scene when she launched Project 8, a professional women’s soccer league, a Canadian first.  She plans for the league to kick off in 2025. 

In the days that followed, the word spread like wildfire across social media and traditional media. It’s made the former Oakville Soccer Club star quite the popular person on the interview circuit.  Matheson has appeared on CBC, Sportsnet, and Le Presse, among the numerous stops on her promotional tour.

“There’s been a lot of people reaching out, individually, media requests, etc”’

Letting out a sigh of relief,  “It’s been busy living the entrepreneurial life. I’m getting used to that.” She continued to say, “The last two weeks leading up to the announcement and then the trail after have been quite, quite busy.”

Project 8's first salvo into the public consciousness came when the first two clubs pledged to join the league: Vancouver Whitecaps and Calgary Foothills. Following the initial release, the buzz has only been building including the business side as potential investors seek involvement. 

“We definitely got a few new leads on the ownership front.”

Pierce Lang
Pierce Lang

The goal is for the professional league to kick off in 2025 with 8 teams from coast to coast. Still, it’s the long-term growth that Diana has her sights set on. 

“It’s a rapidly growing industry. Canada is really good at it, and we have a pretty incredible market.”

Though she's can't wait for the launch in 2025, it is the anticipated growth over is over the next 10 to 20 years that really has her excited.

Matheson, who has a degree in economics from Princeton University, sees a massive gap in the market that this new venture looks to fill. There are millions of enthusiastic sports fans who can’t afford premium sports tickets and who aren't represented on any playing field.

“There’s nobody really selling women’s professional sports in Canada. Soccer is by far the biggest market. You know, in some ways it’s a family product; in ways, it’s going to be more accessible than a Toronto Maple Leafs' game, but it’s the equity angle, the empowerment angle for any young woman looking to work in sport or business, your dads with daughters angles, obviously the LGBTQ+S crowd is super important in women’s soccer.”

It’s not as though she hasn’t run into her fair share of nay-sayers in the lead-up to this announcement, but Diana revels in the chance to set the record straight. "I think it is a privilege to be able to have that opportunity. And I think we’ve been able to have an effect on a lot of Canadians; and be like ‘oh, this is a really cool opportunity.’"

Diana believes ticket prices can be kept relatively inexpensive, with tickets averaging $26.00. There will be a range of ticket options from higher-cost for premium seats and more accessible pricing for groups and teams rates. She plans to have an option for everyone.

Ticketing won’t be the only revenue driver, as both licensed apparel and official apparel will be a strong revenue source for the league. The other main benefit of bringing on a premium apparel brand will be public visibility leading to public discourse.  Project 8 will not be wasting any time in getting a deal done, “apparel and licensing conversations will be finalized next year.”

While the two clubs that have already been announced are with existing operations already entrenched in the Canadian soccer landscape, there will be the potential for growth funded from outside the country and from new investors looking to break into the game for the first time. 

“We’re open to anything. I think that means MLS clubs. It means independent ownership groups, foreign ownership coming in. We’re having to start from scratch in some markets, given that it’s the right owner or ownership group we’re happy to do that.”

After the holidays, Diana will be revving things back up, and you should expect to hear more from Project 8 in 2023. She will have the support of an "army" behind her, with former players like Christine Sinclair, Amy Walsh, Stephanie Labbé, and her business partner Thomas Gilbert, whom she met at Smith School of Business.

"The sky is the limit with this league."